Lockheed premiers Unmanned Technology aboard Black Hawk | Five Rafales arrive in Qatar l Czech Republic receives three Light Attack/Trainer AircraftJun 07, 2019 05:00 UTC
General Dynamics won a $25.6 million firm-fixed-price contract to produce MK 46 Modification 2 Gun Weapon Systems for use on modern Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ships. MK46 30mm all-weather, day/night, fully stabilized weapon system is a remotely operated system that uses a high-velocity cannon for shipboard self-defense against small, high-speed surface targets. It is the main deck gun for LPD-17 ships and is the secondary gun battery for LCS, and Zumwalt Class ships. The contract is for the procurement of two 30mm MK 46 MOD 2 GWSs for the LCS Surface Warfare Mission module, two 30mm MK 46 MOD 2 GWSs for the LPD-29, two 30mm MK 46 MOD 2 GWSs for the LPD-30, and associated spare parts. General Dynamics will perform work within the US and is expected to be finished by September 2021.
Sikorsky has flown its Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) technology aboard a UH-60A Black Hawk testbed helicopter for the first time. The company said in a press release that the flight took place on May 29 and it marked the official start to the flight test program for the soon-to-be optionally piloted aircraft. “This is the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the aircraft,” Lockheed Martin said. The OPV trials are part of a wider effort led by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to demonstrate unmanned helicopter operations under its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System program. Follow-on flight testing aims to include envelope expansion throughout the summer leading to flights without any pilots in 2020.
Middle East & Africa
Five Rafales for the Qatari Amiri Air Force arrived at Dukhan Air Base on June 5. Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was on hand to welcome the pilots and the jets home. Qatar inked a number of major arms deals after Riyadh and its allies the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced a total economic boycott of Doha in June 2017. Qatar ordered 24 of the Rafales from France in 2015, adding 12 more last year. It also has an option to buy 36 more. In February, France formally handed the first of the aircraft over to Qatar in a ceremony in Merignac, southwestern France, where the planes are built. Qatar has separately inked deals with France for 50 Airbus A321 passenger planes as well as a deal with Britain to buy Typhoon fighters.
Aero Vodochody delivered three new L-159T2 light attack/trainer aircraft to the Czech Republic. The new T2 twin seat aircraft, which made its maiden flight in 2018, has a newly built central and forward fuselage, and is fully NVG compatible. The L-159 aircraft is operated by Czech Air Force, Iraqi Air Force and US company Draken International. According to reports, the cockpit has a multi-function display and upgraded version of the VS-20 ejection seat, while the aircraft offers single-point pressure refueling capability and carries self-protection systems in the form of countermeasures and a radar warning receiver. This makes the trainer perfect to train for the fleet of Gripens that student pilots move onto.
Finnish defense and aerospace group Patria has acquired Belgian aircraft propulsion maintenance operation Belgium Engine Center (BEC) from AIM Norway, said an official press release from Patria. BEC is a military jet engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) center that services the Pratt & Whitney F100 engine which powers F-15 and F-16 aircraft around the globe. The center also provides material management services for those engines. BEC has its operating base in Herstal in Belgium, and has about 90 employees. AIM Norway acquired BEC in 2016. The acquisition comes after Patria acquired Norwegian aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist AIM Norway in partnership with Kongsberg of Norway in December 2018.
The Japanese defense ministry plans to deploy a radar-equipped Aegis Ashore unit in the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Araya training area in Akita, the capital of the prefecture. However, officials found several mistakes in the survey documents that supported the need to deploy missile interceptors in Akita, local news reported Thursday. The defense ministry said on May 27 that 19 other candidate sites were “unfit” for Aegis Ashore deployment, Jiji Press reported. The government survey in question included errors for terrain data on nine other areas that provided comparisons to the designated site. The US State Department approved the Aegis Ashore systems purchase to Japan in January. Total cost of the system is estimated at more than $2 billion.
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